Florida Orange Production Seen Lower USDA; Futures Surge

Jan 10, 2014 12:35 pm ET

(Updates prices in fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The orange crop in Florida, the world’s second-largest citrus grower, will be 5 percent smaller than forecast last month after the citrus greening disease damaged groves, the U.S. government said.

In the 12 months that started Oct. 1, Florida will collect 115 million boxes, below the 121 million projected in December, the Department of Agriculture said today in a report. On average, traders and analysts expected a cut to 119.43 million boxes, according to a Bloomberg survey. A box weighs 90 pounds, or about 41 kilograms.

Orange-juice prices entered a bull market last month on signs Florida’s crop would shrink because of dry weather and citrus greening, a disease that starves trees of nutrients, causing fruit to wither and drop early.

On ICE Futures U.S. in New York, orange juice for March delivery rose 3.1 percent to $1.4675 a pound at 12:33 p.m.

Before the release of the USDA data at noon, the price rose by the exchange limit of 10 cents to $1.524. At 10:15 a.m., the commodity reached the highest for a most-active contract since June 12.

Brazil is the top orange grower.

--Editors: Patrick McKiernan, Joe Richter